Author Topic: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA  (Read 9708 times)

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #75 on: January 02, 2021, 12:04:00 PM »
*1991 RINGS Year-in-Review Continued... *

RINGSí Top 5 Wrestlers in 1991

ML: 1. Volk Han. An amazing one of a kind, once in a generation talent who was immediately head and shoulders above everyone but Kiyoshi Tamura despite having never competed in a worked or full rules shoot. Han really revolutionized the grappling game, popularizing the attacking, chain submission style that made people outside of hardcore practioners want to watch ground fighting and, perhaps indirectly, became the basis of the gambling, no risk no reward Japanese MMA ground style at a time when American MMA was all about lay & pray. No submission wrestler was ever flashier than Han, yet perhaps because he wasn't trained in the lazy ways of cooperative pro wrestling, he maintained most of the good habits he'd employed in competitive tournament fighting, and was able to build the sparking end game around a really solid, technically sound foundation. Han had amazing reflexes with the speed and anticipation to capitalize on them, moving constantly and correctly, adjusting, tweeking, eventually capitalizing on something that might otherwise be outlandish, and probably would just be too slow and deliberate if a lesser athlete and/or tactician attempted it. Han was never content to be a one man show, but rather someone who forced the opponent to step up their game to try to keep up with him. Han was going to work his hardest, and if you had any semblance of talent, he wasn't going to let you get away with getting anything over on him without earning it, which again added a level of urgency and intensity to his contests.

2. Willie Peeters. RINGS resident wild man Sneaky Peeters was a lot of things, but certainly never boring like his senpai Dullman. In fact, I'm not sure anyone tried harder to entertain than Willie, and managed to be the only repeat offender... on my RINGS top matches list. Sometimes Peeters undermined himself by being so out of control he was simply sloppy, but his matches had great energy, and he kept the crowd at the edge of their seats by being chaos incarnate. While most wrestlers bore me to death through the Ric Flair connect the same dots 24/7 repetitive style, you just never knew what insanity you were going to get from Peeters. Certainly, no one will ever accuse him of not being stiff enough... assuming he managed to connect. His heavy body punches were ahead of their time, and something it's baffling we never saw more of in the worked world given that even most of the marks would eventually know deep down that real head punches without gloves would get fighters nowhere but the emergency room to reset their shattered paws.

3. Herman Renting. Life would be better without most of these foreigners, but I'm surprisingly not calling for a moratorium on Renting. Renting may not be the most talented guy around, but he was figuring things out with each match. At first I thought he had little beyond a Greco Roman takedown, but he was actually able to display a lot of variance in his submission game out of that in his second match with Nagai. He may not be the best standup fighter offensively, but showed a good ability to work standing sequences around his takedown and submission game, and impressed me with his footwork in his subsequent match with karate champion Nobuaki Kakuda, which would be my #5 match if I absolutely had to pick from among the stuff I wouldn't quite call good.

4. Akira Maeda. I liked Maeda as a pro wrestler, and in the less evolved days of shooting, but now that he's done a good thing in surrounding himself with a bunch of legitimate martial artists, he needs to fight like one instead of still just being a pro wrestler. I will give him a pass for now because he was having enough trouble getting through his few matches on two feet, much less trying to learn whole new legitimate methods of combat in the interim. While his matches were all passable enough, and he was carried to the promotions match of the year, he largely seemed like a dinosaur, albeit one who was obviously not boring, lacking in gravitas, or without a certain brand of showy skill.

5. Mitsuya Nagai. Nagai was somewhat ahead of the curve for a rookie because he had been in various gyms since 1986, starting out with Satoru Sayama, but following his primary instructor there, Naoyuki Taira, to the Shootboxing promotion, where he was 5-2 as an amateur. He joined the U.W.F. in 1989, but a neck injury kept him from ever making his debut. His standup skills were better than his ground skills, but having participated in enough real and fake fighting training sessions, he was pretty well rounded. Nagai isn't a top shelf athlete though, so he needs that solid technique because he can't get away with things as easily or make up for them with speed and aggression the way a Kakihara can. It's hard to really gauge Nagai because he had two matches against fellow rookie Renting then a shoot against ultimate sleezebag Gordeau.

MB: 1. Volk Han: There is no way to argue against this choice, as even without the foresight of knowing what greatness Han would achieve in the future, his debut alone shows us that there is a lot of talent just waiting to be discovered. Even though we saw a lot of flashiness in his style when he fought Maeda, he did it with such a stylized sense of confidence, that he came off like a Russian super-hero who seemingly had loads of never before seen attacks at his disposal.

2. Willie Peeters: While it pains me to put him over due to his general jerky behavior (which would only get worse in the years to come) there is no denying the entertainment value of this man. He was truly all over the place, but that is where the fun was, as you never quite knew what you were going to get out of him. His antics aside, he did have talent, and could surely hold his own in a real shoot if he had to, although that opportunity hasnít come up yet.

3. Koichiro Kimura: This is where Iíll deviate from Lorefice a bit and proffer the multiple time S.A.W. champion for everyoneís consideration. Granted he only had one televised match so far, and yes in that one match he wasnít given a lot of opportunities to shine due to his opponents inexperience in working a match, but in that one match I saw a lot of potential in him, that exceeded what I saw in others, like Renting and Nagai. He showed nice fluid movement throughout that match, in both his footwork/striking, as well as smooth/explosive judo. Everyone that we have seen so far has usually one dynamic or skill that they are good at, but not often due we see people that blend all the different aspects together in a coherent fashion. While time may prove me wrong, from what I was able to see in his initial match, Iím going out on a limb and saying that he is in the upper tier of Rings talents right now.

4. Mitsuya Nagai: While I think it would be completely fair to swap out this slot with Herman Renting, I feel compelled to choose Nagai simply due to his well-roundedness. His Shootboxing background gave him a nice kickboxing foundation to build on, but he also has had enough pro wrestling/shoot training to round his skills out. While neither his striking or grappling are world class, they are both good enough that he will always be a skilled hand to have on board, even if he can never really rise above the mid-card ranks.

5. Akira Maeda: I fell odd for picking Maeda, but the fact is that he has a lot of gravitas as a performer, and every time he shows up, the crowds go into a complete state of rapture. That isnít a quality that should be neglected when he asses these performers, as the ability to project yourself, and sell your act so to speak, is just as important as the actual work that you do in that ring. Furthermore, I actually like paired down Maeda more than the 80s version. Yes, he is a shell of his former self here, but less is oftentimes more, and when I watch a lot of his 80s matches I find about 5-6 mins of great action squished by a usual 15 mins of coma inducing or otherwise lazy matwork. By keeping things short and simple (even if itís due to necessity) I am enjoying his matches more now, even though his current lack of physical ability hampers the realism that he is going for.



RINGS 1991 Rookie of the Year

ML: 1. Volk Han

2. Willie Peeters

3. Herman Renting

4. Mitsuya Nagai

5. Bert Kops Jr. Kops only had one fight, but it was the 2nd best of the year here even though the later stages were very compromised by a knee injury that he probably shouldn't have continued pushing through. He was impressive with his array of deadlifts & suplexes, as well as his willingness to not only stand up to the out of control bully Peeters, but actually even escalate the stiffness of their contest. I suspect he would be much higher had he managed to be more active, but at the same time, the guys ahead of him all had much better careers.

MB: 1. Volk Han

2. Willie Peeters

3. Koichiro Kimura

4. Mitsuya Nagai

5. Bert Kops Jr.

Best RINGS matches of 1991

ML: 1. 12/7/91: Akira Maeda vs. Volk Han

2. 9/14/91: Bert Kops Jr. vs. Willie Peeters

3. 5/11/91: Willie Peeters vs. Marcel Haarmans

4. 9/14/91: Mitsuya Nagai vs. Herman Renting

MB: 1. 12/7/91: Akira Maeda vs Volk Han

2. 12/7/91: Willie Peeters vs Dick Vrij --- When I think of this match, Iím reminded of a review that Roger Ebert did for Basic Instinct 2 where he opened up with this, ď"Basic Instinct 2" resembles its heroine: It gets off by living dangerously. Here is a movie so outrageous and preposterous it is either (a) suicidal or (b) throbbing with a horrible fascination. I lean toward (b). It's a lot of things, but boring is not one of them. I cannot recommend the movie, but ... why the hell can't I? Just because it's godawful? What kind of reason is that for staying away from a movie? Godawful and boring, that would be a reason.Ē

This match may not be good in any conventional sense of the term, but it is FAR from boring. In fact, I would say it was one of the most entertaining matches of the year, despite everything that we know to be both good and right. Peeters was oscillating from not having his strikes connect at all, to having them connecting way too hard, and bounced around more than the Tasmanian Devil in a pinball machine, all while the Japanese crowed went bananas.   The entire b-movie atheistic was further amplified by the evil henchman comic-book appearance of Dick Vrij, whoís icy cold demeanor and bodybuilders physique, only served to add to the experience.

3.  12/7/91 Gerard Gordeau vs Mitsuya Nagai: Again, when viewed in isolation, there is nothing particularly noteworthy here, but taken in the context of its time, I found this to be rather fascinating. It was the first full blown shoot in the RINGS promotion, and was an interesting matchup as you had a kickboxer with grappling experience in Nagai, against a savate champion who presumably had little to no grappling skills in Gordeau, but this played out in a fashion that I wouldnít have expected. Nagai was able to get the takedowns, but couldnít follow up on them, and couldnít hang with the superior striking skills and reach of his opponent. Perhaps itís because this was a nice change of pace being a shoot, when so far, we hadnít seen any yet from RINGS, but I liked it when taking everything into consideration.

4. 9/14/91: Bert Kops Jr. vs. Willie Peeters

5. 9/14/91: Mitsuya Nagi vs Herman Renting: I found this rematch from their initial meeting on 5/11/91 to not only have been the better of their two matches, but an entertaining bout in its own right.


Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #76 on: January 13, 2021, 07:37:15 AM »
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 22 "An Intense Defense"

*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice of the excellent MMA/Puroresu emporium will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

Welcome, as we begin a new era in charting the ever unfolding martial-combat zeitgeist. Yes, 1992 is upon us and we have taken the solemn oath to forge ahead in traversing these uncharted waters, following headlong to wherever they may lead us. 1991 was revelatory in many ways, but ultimately functioned as an hors d'oeuvre of the possibilities of what modern MMA would and could become in the future. It also set the stage for three separate promotions to really start to discover their identity, so we can be sure that this year we will start to see a further development of the myriad of new ideas that were presented when the UWF was birthed in 1984.



We have now arrived to 1-9-92 as we return to the cozy confines of the Korakuen Hall, ready to kick off the year with another UWF-I event. 1991 ended with Takada and Co. making a bold move with their Berbick public relations stunt, that probably would have been a disaster had Berbick actually fought Takada instead of leaving the ring in disgust. Berbickís actions, though one canít really fault him for, have had the unfortunate consequences of playing into the narrative that the UWF-I has been trying to craft for the last year, in that Takada is a superhero and an unequalled master in kakutogi combat. We will now have to wait almost 6 years to see this narrative completely collapse when we see the birth and rise of PRIDE FC, but for now let us bathe in the warmth of Takadaís 15mins.

We are welcomed to a montage of some of the various fighters that were present during last months card, giving interviews, before it cuts away to footage of Nobuhiko Takada having a seat right by the front entrance of the Korakuen Hall, greeting fans as they come in, and shaking their hands. This is pretty neat if you think about it, as could you imagine Hulk Hogan hanging around the front of the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta Ga, greeting fans as they entered the studio for a taping of WCW Saturday Night? Neither can I. After a lengthy interview with Takada, of which I understood nothing outside of a reference to his fight with Berbick, we are off to the races, with a rematch between Hiromitsu Kanehara and the other Maeda, Masakazu (not Akira).

These two stole the show a couple of weeks prior when they opened, and while Iím surprised they would go back to the well so quickly, I wonít complain as any day to see Kanehara in action is a good one, indeed. They donít waste anytime before getting right into the action, and other Maeda is looking a lot more confident this time out, as he immediately goes guns blazing towards Kanehara with a litany of palm-strikes, but is taken down quickly when he misses a Ushiro-Tobi-Mawashi-Geri (reverse jumping roundhouse kick). Maeda was able to quickly get out of Kaneharaís mount and ended the rapid sequence with a soccer kick to Kaneharaís back. We arenít even a min into the match, and this is looking good, so far.

Maeda continues to press the action with a variety of strikes, that Kanehara is able to parry before closing the distance and executing a tasty Ippon-Seoinage (one arm throw). Kanehara looks for a quick kimura, but other Maeda does a good job of scrambling and his constant movement stifles Kaneharaís submission attempts, which causes Kanehara to simply stand back up, and give several soccer kicks of his own. What continued to follow was nothing short of excellent as there was a total non-stop flow between two men that outside of a few questionable suplexes, and a couple of Boston crab attempts from Kanehara, never felt hokey. It also helped that other Maeda exuded a lot more confidence this time around, and while you can tell that Kanehara is the better athlete, unlike their first bout where there were sequences that felt like Kanehara was just letting Maeda do what he wanted, everything here felt organic and earned.

There was one great spot where Kanehara was on his back, reaping the knee of other Maeda, looking for a leg-attack, in which Maeda countered by twisting around on one leg while stomping the body and face of Kanehara with the other. This sequence, along with others in this match, started to show an evolution in pro-wrestling logic, that had rarely been seen up to this point, where a wrestler had to find creative solutions to a submission as opposed to simply crying and screaming until he inched closer and closer to the ropes, looking for an escape. Speaking of which, there was a great moment in this match where Kanehara had other Maeda in an armbar, and as soon as he arched his back to put pressure on the elbow-joint, Maeda shrieked in pain, and immediately exploded towards the ropes, in what came across as a realistic approach to being put in this predicament, as opposed to the usual contrived theatrics. The fight ends in a 15min draw, and this was a great way to start the year. I suspect that this will wind up being in the 1992 year end highlight reel, and if they can manage to keep Kanehara, and give him a proper spot as a main player, then that coupled with Tamura, could be enough to push them over the top into the preeminent shoot-style promotion going forward.

ML: I can't in good conscience call this a rookie match given it's more evolved than at least 95% of the matches we saw in '91. Maeda made incredible strides in just a few weeks, now fighting with the confidence of a seasoned performer. That's really the difference here, as Maeda can be aggressive, taking it to Kanehara in standup where he has the advantage because he now has the belief to let it rip. While Kanehara is still the superior performer, the gap has lessened enough that they can do an organic, back & forth match counter laden bout where Maeda has the advantage in standup & Kanehara has the advantage on the ground, but from the viewer's perspective, it doesn't matter where they are because the quality is very high regardless. The matwork was better in the 1st match because it was more focused on Kanehara working his magic, and thus had some more evolved transitions, but the standup was 10 times better here. ***1/2

The Anti-Imanari Head Stomp



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #77 on: January 13, 2021, 07:38:21 AM »
*Vol. 22 Continued... *

Next up is Masahito Kakihara vs Tom Burton. When we last saw Kakihara we witnessed him slap the stuffing out of Jim Boss, in what was probably the stiffest work of 1991. Now hopefully we will witness him continue his dragon-slaying ways, as we substitute one monster in Boss for another in Burton. True to form Kakihara immediately sends an open hand strike down the pipe to Burton, which awakens the wrath of the ferocious beast, and causes him to immediately charge into Kakihara. Interestingly, Kakihara immediately pulls something of an open guard, and tries to work a kimura from that position, but Burton is too strong, and simply powers out of it, and winds up with a side-mount for a brief moment, before Kakihara sneaks his way back to his feet. The next couple of mins saw the same pattern, as Kakihara would nail Burton with some strikes before getting mauled to the ground, but thankfully he was just too crafty to be kept there for long. There was an interesting sequence where Burton trapped the left ankle of Kakihara by wrapping his legs around his ankle, in what seemed like a primitive submission attempt, which allowed Kakihara enough space to slide his way into a rear naked choke, which prompted a rope-escape, and another great moment where Kakihara slid out of a side-headlock and when Burton responded by turtling up, he simply dived over his back and secured a toe-hold, which I could totally see being a viable move in a BJJ match.

The 2nd half of the match saw the tone shift considerably when Burtonís offense was largely negated, and he spent most of his time as a grappling dummy for Kakihara, who tried out various inventive kneebar entries. The one-way traffic ended abruptly towards the 9min mark, when Burton began with a single-leg takedown attempt, and quickly changed it to a clothesline. This led to a stunned Kakihara, who was quickly finished off with the ever-dubious crab from Boston. This wound up being a very bizarre match as the first half was logical and showed a nice contrast between a strong wrestler with a limited move-set vs a much slicker (albeit smaller) athlete in Kakihara. The 2nd half just showed dominating a befuddled Burton, who pulled a win out of nowhere towards the end. I donít really think this was Burtonís fault as much as it was an issue of the two of them not meshing very well together. There were several nice transitions and sequences from Kakihara, but as a whole this match came off as jarring and bizarre.

 ML: I don't get Kakihara's strategy here, he either leaped in with a wild low percentage kneel kick or locked up with the bigger, stronger man whose only standout skill is wrestling. Kakihara's strength is his striking, particularly his explosive barrages of palm blows, but we rarely saw them because he never fought at distance or in range. The match was adequate but being almost entirely in Burton's world wasn't to its benefit. Basically, Burton was okay, and he basically did his thing, without too much interplay.

Any hopes I had of the next match turning things around are quickly dashed, as JT Southern is set to make a return against Tatuyo Nakano. Surely this return to the well of shame was due to Billy Scottís sudden departure from the promotion, as he was mandated to stop wearing his singlets and switch over to a more pro-wrestling flavored lime green outfit. Billy wasnít crazy about having to do this, but was willing to keep them happy, that is until he got his paycheck from the last event and noticed that they had deducted $500 as a cost towards the outfit. This was a deal-breaker for Scott, who told them that he would not return unless they paid for the outfit, as it was their idea, and he didnít want to wear it in the first place. This led to him being away from the promotion for almost two years, until they agreed to not only pay him his this money back, but to also hire Billy Robinson as his full time coach, which led to him coming back and staying him them until their closure in 1996.

The match hasnít even started yet, and the fans are laughing at JT Southern for going to the wrong ring corner to start his match, after the ref shows JT where the correct corner is located, the bout begins with Nakano throwing a few kicks, and generally just feeling out his opponent. JT has a height and reach advantage that if he had any idea of what he was doing he could have certainly utilized, but instead kept opting to try and initiate a standard pro-wrestling tie-up.  This match wound up being one of the worst so far, probably even worse than the JT/Takada bout from 91. Southernís offense only seemed to consist of holding onto an appendage for as long as possible, until Nakano would get bored and hit or kick his way out. Nakano didnít really seem to know what to do with JT, and thankfully after 7min, he simply kicked into high gear, hit a suplex and a single-leg crab for the win. This was terrible, and really is highlighting how much losing Scott is going to hurt their roster. There is now no foreign talent in this promotion that is a real asset and can work a high-caliber match in the shoot-style. They have Albright and his gimmick (which is fine for what it is) and Burton and Boss can be passable in small doses but they are going to have to find a solid replacement for Scott quickly, or step-up Kaneharaís role in the company.

ML: Nakano is the worst native, but he's fine when there's someone to pull something out of him. Unfortunately, Southern is the worst in our sphere, period, so this is just a disaster waiting to unfold. This wasn't as inept as JT's other performances, but it was possibly the worst match we've seen so far. It was just pointless, with both guys trading stretches of bending each others legs or arms until Nakano fired up for a cheap head kick, suplex, and carny submission.

Not a moment too soon, we get Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko Miyato, and this may be just what we need to turn this evening around. Thankfully things start off explosively as Tamura charges in with a high kick, and a relentless palm-strike assault, but Miyato stands his ground and fires back with several stiff slaps of his own, before downing Tamura with a spinning back kick to the stomach. So far this is very intense, and believable. Tamura gets back up, and Miyato tries to clinch with him while throwing some knees, but Tamura slickly switches behind him, and nails a standing rear naked choke followed by a takedown. Yuko spent a while deflecting the choke from being fully sunken in, before being able to pry out enough to attempt a straight-armbar against Tamura, who countered with a beautiful cartwheel, and right back into a RNC. However, Tamura made the same mistake that many BJJ white-belts do when he crossed his feet while attempting the choke, which allowed Miyato to attack one of his ankles.

They are now both back on their feet, and Tamura quickly goes for a wrist tie-up with Miyato, and after he gets it, starts to shift his bodyweight side to side, in something similar to a feint, as if he is weighing his next move, when suddenly Miyato explodes into the finest firemanís takedown weíve yet seen.  Miyato then gives us some interesting ne-waza when he controls Tamuraís head with a modified leg-scissor while fishing for a kimura. Once he gets the kimura, he quickly forgoes the head control and explodes into the submission, causing an instant rope-escape and a cry of anguish from Tamura. The rest of this bout was total fire, as it saw Tamura dwarfed on the scoreboard by Miyato, as his occasional submission was worth a lot less than Miyatoís knockdowns. Eventually, Tamura was able to get Miyato in the center of the ring and secure an ankle-lock for the victory.

This was another excellent match, and it really has me rethinking my opinion of Miyato. Before this, I kind of just looked at him as an unassuming, and middling figure that could be good, but was too tethered to the old UWF ways to be of much interest, but he proved me wrong here, as a motivated Miyato is capable of a top-tier performance, and really shined here tonight. Both men brought a great explosive energy to the ring and has made me forget about the two matches prior.

ML: The much-anticipated rematch of the 2nd best UWF-I match of '91 was total fire, as these two just blitzed each other from start to finish. One of the great things about Tamura is he's able to up the speed, pace, and intensity in a manner that is not only believable, but based on the urgency that's so lacking in ordinary pro wrestling, where fighters are more concerned with playing to the crowd & posing, just stalling at every opportunity when the opponent is down so they have to do less. I really believed in the early near finishes because they were working at the rate that others can only approach when they kick it into high gear for the last minute or so. There was a great early sequence where Miyato countered into a hammerlock when Tamura was trying to pull him back into the center to reapply the rear naked choke, but Tamura did one of his crazy one-armed headstands to pivot into a position where he could retake Miyato's neck. Another great sequence saw Miyato do a hip toss into an armbar, but Tamura countered with a backwards roll into an Achilles' tendon hold. The whole match was back & forth like this. The only downside is it was even shorter than their 1st match, which was perhaps the shortest match I've ever rated great. I'm glad they never slowed down, the whole match had the feel of a finishing sequence because of that, and it was really brilliant, though their previous match was perhaps a little better because it was longer, or I was slightly disappointed that they ran through the points so quickly it was obviously not going to last much longer. Regardless though, this was amazing, and will surely wind up being one of the top matches of '92. ****1/4


Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #78 on: January 13, 2021, 07:39:39 AM »
*Vol 22 Continued.... *

Now itís time for Japan vs America as Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoji Anjo must now face Jim Boss and Gary Albright. Surely this card was quickly thrown together on paper as itís been less than three weeks since their mega year-end event so we have what appears to be a main event that was slapped together just so we can get more talent onto the card. Still, the last couple of tag-matches that the UWFI has put on, have been surprisingly awesome, so Iím going into this with some high expectations. The match starts with Anjo and Boss, and right away Boss has to take some stiff strikes on his way to a takedown of Anjo. The takedown doesnít last long however, before Anjo is back on his feet and back to lighting up Boss some more in the standup exchanges. I have to give Boss a lot of credit, as he seems more willing than a lot of his peers to really take some abuse in the ring, which adds a lot to his credibility. Itís not long before things switch over to Yamazaki/Albright, and right away we see how Yamazaki is really above the rest of his peers in terms of craftsmanship, as itís the subtleties that he adds to the proceedings that makes his work so good. Right away Yamazaki goes for a kick, and gets slammed down for his trouble, so he pauses, thinks about his next move, and begins to feint a grappling exchange in order to land a thunderous kick to Albrightís thigh. After their sequences we go back to Anjo/Boss, and Boss demonstrates a common problem that newcomers to this style have, as outside of his fearlessness and takedown abilities, Boss doesnít seem to have any understanding of either striking or submissions, so there is little he can really do with Anjo once the fight is on the ground. The fight ends just shy of the 16min mark when our favorite zebra-warrior took a flight on Air Albright which resulted in a knockout loss. While this was certainly entertaining it was a few notches below the last couple of tag-matches we saw, and still suffers from what feels like a lack of purpose, or any real stakes, but that is going to be true of any tag-match that would exist in a format like this. It was easily the most akin to a standard pro-wrestling match out of what we saw this evening. Still, it was entertaining, and not a bad way to end the evening.

ML: Finally, Albright was in a match that was allowed to be somewhat competitive. This had the usual pro wrestling problem that tag matches with a big star or unstoppable force have, in that the match was all about them, but in order to save and/or protect them, they were only in sporadically. Boss worked hard, but there's no heat on or really interest in him, so while this was often the better portion of the match, it came off somewhat flat & meaningless. Yamazaki did a good job here. This wasn't his match, but he perhaps better found a balance between his old more pro wrestling style and his new more realistic style, still seeming thoughtful and patient but knowing this had to be quicker & he had to go. He actually managed to German suplex Gary, and nearly extended the armbar on the follow up. Though Albright was certainly the dominant force in the contest, and ultimately got the win despite this being the match he should have lost with Boss doing the job because he was miles below the other 3, it at least didn't seem a given that Albright would beat Yamazaki in a singles match. I wouldn't quite call this good, but at the same time it was at least better than most of Takada's main events.

Conclusion: This was not a bad way to kick off the new year. This was intended to be a small event as they were just coming off their huge year-end production, and when judged accordingly I would say that they succeeded, but not without exposing some problems that will hopefully be rectified in the days to come. They had two awesome matches in Kanehara/Maeda and Tamura/Miyato but they not only need to burn the rolodex that contains JT Southernís phone number, but they also need to find a real replacement for Billy Scott, or at least be willing to give up on using gajin talent outside of cannon fodder. Kakihara is awesome, but unlike Tamura who was able to make Burton look good in their bout from 91, he didnít seem up to the task of carrying an inferior opponent to an 8min match. His match with Boss from last month worked well, but that was also due to it being a blistering blitzkrieg that ended quickly and didnít have prolonged grappling exchanges. Since they seem to be unwilling to show any weaknesses in Takada outside of a possible loss to Albright in the future, then they are going to have to figure out a way to cultivate their other talent in ways to keep an interesting and compelling narrative. They have a lot of good talent now, and with a couple more key players, used correctly, they could easily be an unstoppable force in the days ahead, but from what weíve seen so far it seems inevitable that they are going to find a way to screw this up.

ML: Although a humble, small show, this is not to be missed with two very strong matches and some decent filler. If they could have had a standing bout in place of the Tennessee travesty, this could, perhaps, have been a memorable show.

*This entire event, along with many other priceless artifacts can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *


Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #79 on: January 13, 2021, 07:42:31 AM »
*Vol. 22 Continued.... *

*In Other News *



On 1-12-91 the Sediokaikan Karate organization held the 1st Towa Cup Karate Tournament Championships in which 57 men competed for an unprecedented 10-million-yen grand prize (which approximates out to roughly 100,000 U.S. dollars.) This was an amazing tournament that took a variety of karate fighters and put them in a format similar to kickboxing, in that they had to wear boxing gloves and the fight took place in a ring, but unlike kickboxing, each round was individually judged on a ten-point must system, for as many rounds as it took to determine a winner. After each round, three judges would assess the fight and either award the fight to the blue corner, the red corner, or a draw. This led to a lot of exciting fights that ended in the first round, although there were a few that went several rounds. All strikes (outside of groin shots, or eye pokes) were legal, and clinching was allowed as well, although most fighters didnít spend a lot of time stalling in a clinch as the rules necessitated going full-speed all the time, as if you didnít win your round, you were eliminated for good.

The eventual final combatants were upcoming sediokaikan fighter, Taiei Kin (who had to have an absolute war of attrition against Yoshinori Nishi in his 2nd bout, which wound up being the best fight of the night) vs established karate and kickboxing star Masaaki Satake. This event had been running smoothly and without incident, until this final match, when the judges apparently did not like the prospect of having their established star in Satake lose, so they seemingly engaged in some blatant judging shenanigans to sway the fight to their liking.

Round 1 was a cautious round for both men, but when we did see action it was in the form of mutual exchanges, and Taiei got about 2-3 clean shots for every one of Satakeís during these encounters. He would also occasionally pepper Satakeís leg with well-timed kicks outside of these exchanges. 2 judges called the round a draw, while the one honest judge ruled it in favor of Kin. Round 2 saw Satake doing a bit better, as he was occasionally getting in some nice counter punches on Kin, but was still being out struck by Kin in a seeming 2-1 ratio, and what happened next was one of the most utterly corrupt things Iíve witnessed in kickboxing/karate. The round ended with 2 judges ruling in favor of Kin, and one calling it a draw. Then when Kin was celebrating, there was some commotion at the judges table, and the ref had the fighters sit down while the judges had a meeting with founder, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and some of the other event officials, all the while Akira Maeda (who was in attendance) looked bewildered at the entire affair. After their pow-wow Ishii grabbed a microphone and announced another round would take place. A 3rd round did indeed take place, and this time Satake brought his a-game and won convincingly by every metric. This was a shameful ending to what was otherwise a great event, and I really enjoyed the rule set. By having every round leading to a judgeís decision, it forced the fighters to always fight with 100% intensity, but by also having unlimited rounds, it didnít force the judges to just arbitrarily pick a winner, either. Before the ending fiasco, everything was judged fairly in my estimation, and I wouldnít mind seeing this type of round structure be used for future events. Also, Taiei Kin made a very impressive showing here tonight, and will be a force in the future if he continues to compete.

Even Maeda Knows This is Wrong....


*This entire event, along with many other excellent relics from the early years of MMA history can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

***Over 100 Japanese reporters attended the year end UWF-I event held on 12-22-91, which is remarkable as that is even more than the number of press that attended the 12-12-91 SWS event held in the Tokyo Dome, which featured Hulk Hogan in the main event.

***Rob Kaman is rumored to be planning on fighting at the next FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS event on 1-25-92, although his opponent is unknown at this time.

***The PWFG is reportedly negotiating to bring in Roberto Duran for a fight against Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Originally, they were going to use this match as the main event on the card in Miami, however Duran, for tax reasons, wants the match outside the United States. One has to wonder if the recent success of the UWF-Iís boxer vs wrestler gimmick is prompting the PWFG to follow suit?

***Cynthia Rothrock took some time out of her hectic schedule recently while shooting her latest movie, Tiger Claws, in order to join up with Matthew Broderick, Kris Kristofferson, and several members of the Toronto Blue Jays, in order to team up with the Church of Scientologyís ďSay no to drugsÖSay Yes to LifeĒ campaign. Scientology spokeswoman, Shelly Oake commended the move by saying that when thought leaders like Rothrock took a stand, it helped to depopularize the idea of taking drugs as being a viable solution to lifeís problems.

***Aikido black-belt, and action film star, Steven Seagal, recently opened a martial arts themed restaurant in the downtown area of Chicago. The restaurant is reportedly decorated with kendo gear, samurai armor, and all of this is contained within a new-wave aesthetic. Over 500 people attended the grand opening including Michael Jordan, Robert De Niro, John Candy, Bill Murray, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Seagal hired Singapore-based Wing Chun expert, Randy Williams to head up security for the restaurant.

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #80 on: January 28, 2021, 07:15:50 AM »
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol. 23 "Roar of the Lion Kings"

*Note: Mike Lorefice (of the excellent MMA/Puroresu emporium quebrada.net) will have his comments preceded by his initials. *

Special thanks to Will Colosimo for his assistance in this column.*

We are all set to continue blazing through 1992, this time with the PWFGís first offering of the year. This should prove to be a critical event for the company, as not only are Fujiwara and crew going into this at a disadvantage by having chosen to not have a powerful statement with a solid year-end event last month, but also because the UWFI fired some major warning shots with their 1-9-92 event. Not only did we get another great match between Hiromitsu Kanehara and Masakazu Maeda, but we were also provided a splendid affair (with what will surely be one of the best things to come out of 1992) with Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko MIyato. Needless to say, all the momentum is on the UWFIís side coming into the new year, and while RINGS proved they are still in the hunt with the arrival of Volk Han and some of the Sediokaikan clan, Fujiwaraís group appears to be the most venerable going forward.

The Match That Never WasÖ.


The date is 1-15-92 and we are now at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, a relatively small venue (with an approximate capacity of 5000) that recently closed its doors in September of 2020 as is due to be replaced with a grander version in the Yokohama United Arena in 2024. No time is wasted as we are only given some brief footage of the venue and a close up of a flyer for tonightís event, which strangely seems to suggest some kind of bout between Minrou Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki, which would have been welcome by all, but was sadly only given to us later on in 1994 at Pancraseís Road to the Championship 4 in a farce of a contest, which lasted under 2mins and was probably the most overtly worked match in that promotions history.

First up is Wellington Wilkins, Jr. vs Kazuo Takahashi, and the last time we saw Takahashi he was having his head punted off his body, courtesy of Ken Shamrock. I wouldnít have blamed Takahashi for taking the two months off to heal from that confrontation, but keeping true to his insane warrior reputation, he instead fought a Thai kickboxer at an All Japan Kickboxing event on 12-22-91, which was also the same night that the UWF-I was having their Takada/Berbick blowout. This was reportedly a legit shoot, but we at Kakutogi HQ are attempting to locate a copy of this event to confirm and will update everyone should we be successful.

Takahashi Moonlighting on the Side... *Photo Provided by the W-Colosimo Archives*


The fight is underway and after a few moments of feeling each other out Takahashi quickly slams Wilkins onto the ground and starts looking for an armbar. Wilkins responded by rolling to his stomach and started to turtle when Takahashi pulled a slick move by moving off to the side of Wilkins and then proceeded to put his right forearm under Wilkinís right armpit, and grabbed Wilkins right wrist with his left arm. He then grabbed his own left wrist with his right hand, and then rolled over Wilkinsí shoulder, thereby gaining a back-mount position, which he used to try and sink in a rear naked choke. Chael Sonnen tried something similar against Fedor Emelianenko in 2018, but he should have brushed up on his PWFG videos, as he failed miserably. The choke didnít take however, as Wilkins was able to arch back enough to do something of a cartwheel onto his head, which allowed him to slide out and attempt a guillotine in the ensuing scramble. Takahashi made it to the ropes and the ref called for a break.

Sonnen Should Have Taken NotesÖ



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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #81 on: January 28, 2021, 07:17:27 AM »
*Vol.23 Continued....*

What followed for the next ten minutes was a nice slice of a more understated approach to this style. Both fighters were always trying to punctuate their movements with strikes, either as a way to create an opening for a submission, or as a way to shift the movement of the other person, which in the context of early 90s pro wrestling is quite advanced. This also held true for when they were on the ground, and while it wasnít all out ground and pound like we are used to seeing with modern eyes, it was refreshing to see them not forget that this was still an option. If there was a drawback to be found, it was that Wilkins has all the charisma and stage presence of sandpaper, and while his striking was a marked improvement from his last outing, he still tends to mix his decent shots with blows that are way too soft. Overall, this was a very solid way to start things off, though I can understand why some would find it dry.

ML: Wilkins get a better job here, but this was one of those matches that there's really no reason to recommend. It was neither exciting nor truly credible. It leaned more towards the former, but the matwork was more towards no control judo based laying in wait. The match was perhaps good by early UWF standards, but at this point that's not really cutting it. Takahashi was on the defensive the whole time then won out of nowhere.

Next up is Naoki Sano vs. Jerry Flynn, and this is a welcome matchup, as Sano has been a hit every time weíve seen him thus far, and Flynn gave us a fantastic 30min broadway with Takaku Fuke, not long ago. It will be interesting to see how their styles are going to mesh, as Sano doesnít come from a pure shooting background, and this somewhat hindered his ability to carry Bart Vale during his last appearance, so hopefully Flynn will be a better fit for him.

The fight starts with Flynn attempting to pepper Sanoís thigh with a low-kick, to which Sano responds by catching the leg and tripping him down, but gets quickly reversed when he tried to follow this up with a mount. Flynn instantly goes for a kimura, but Sano does a good job of defending it before getting back to his feet. Once the fight restarts, Flynn starts to utilize his significant reach advantage to wail away against Sano with a variety of kicks at different angles. After taking a rather nasty spinning back kick to the stomach, Sano wisely opts to blast Flynn down with a double leg, as the vertical plane does not seem to bode well for him. Sano tries to keep things on the ground by pressuring Flynn with some different submission attempts, but to my surprise Flynn is too fast and explosive to be kept in any real danger for very long. A bit of a standstill followed until Sano took an enziguri to the head after catching a kick from Flynnís other leg, and from this point forward the dynamics of this match quickly shifted into more of your standard puroresu territory. The rest of the contest was taken right out of the pro-wrestling drama 101 playbook, and featured a lot of back and forth moments between Flynn and Sano trading rope escapes with Flynn maintaining the upper hand with striking, and Sano with submissions, Everything culminated with a poorly choreographed spot where Flynn misses another enziguri, only to meet his doom via half-crab.

I donít want to make it sound like this was bad, because taken into isolation this was an exciting, somewhat stiff, and fast paced pro wrestling match. Rather, the issue I take with this is that coming off the first match that set a much more realistic and subdued tone, it wound up being a case of stylistic whiplash. Flynn looked sharp, especially with his kicks, but Sanoís offense seem to oscillate from solid to silly, and he suffered the same problem that he did with Vale, in that he isnít versed enough in this style to carry a rookie within that framework. To me it was like a film that has several good scenes, but is undermined when taken as a whole, because they didnít keep a consistent tone. As such, I find this difficult to rate, as it was good, but not really in the context that they were going for.

ML: This wasn't the most credible match you'll ever see, but it was fast paced and exciting despite being pretty long. While it wasn't advancing martial arts, it was one of the only mostly striking oriented matches we've seen in PWFG, especially at this length. The match would have played better on a UWF-I show, but PWFG needs some entertainment. My biggest gripe with the match, outside of the finish once again being pretty random, is Flynn was a bit erratic with his strikes, with some of the knees barely connecting. What made this more interesting, and to a certain extent more believable than the old UWF style, was simply that they kept moving. While this wasn't Sano's best performance, largely because he was forced into the role of the grappler, Flynn showed good improvement here, and was flowing really well in standup. ***

Now some people have informed me that the next match might be a shoot, so we will go into this with our antennas held up high, ready to detect any abnormalities. It is Takaku Fuke vs Minoru Suzki, and this is bound to be interesting as Fuke has been on a hot streak lately, first with a stupidly good 30min match with Jerry Flynn, and to my utter shock he even made Bart Vale look good at his last outing. Suzuki runs into the ring and right away gives Fuke a headbutt, in a weird ďThis is my territory!Ē kind of way, and this doesnít seem like standard behavior, so Iím excited to see whatís next.

What proceeded was a very intense, and fast paced grappling match sans any striking. The first four mins saw Suzuki put non-stop pressure on Fuke, constantly looking for either a takedown or submission, and while Fuke couldnít press any offense of his own, he was wily enough to ward off Suzukiís submission attempts until a beautifully explosive armbar by Suzuki got a rope escape out of Fuke. This appears to be a shoot, with some kind of agreement to forgo strikes, which Suzuki kind of circumvented like a jerk, as there was a couple of times that he grinded his forearm or knee into Fukeís face. I have to wonder if there was some kind of pissing contest behind the scenes that led to them wanting to make this a shoot. The match was over soon afterwards as after Fuke stood back up, Suzuki got into a clinch, and with his overhooks, hit an excellent hip-toss followed by a great sequence where he nailed another armbar onto Fuke, in which Fuke tried to cartwheel out of, but Suzuki instantly adjusted, and grabbed his left leg, thereby preventing the chance that Fuke could roll away from the pressure, thus securing the win. I have no doubt this was a shoot, nor do I doubt the many grappling accolades that have been bestowed upon this man, as here he completely clowned Fuke, and made him look like a mere scrappy novice. Fuke wasnít able to do anything but slightly stall the inevitable. However, what I donít understand is the point that this contest served, other than making the prior match with Sano seem even more out of place now that itís wedged in-between a shoot, and a realistic shoot-style outing. I enjoyed seeing this, as Iím always curious to see how these guys did in real shoots, but looking at the entirety of this show objectively, Iím not sure if a 4min squash match for Suzuki is doing anyone any favors.

ML: As we'll see with many Pancrase matches, this was neither a work nor a true shoot. I'd call this a grappling exhibition, as they were going all out, however they clearly agreed not to strike each other. This was likely similar to what they do in the gym, but I don't see what purpose showing that served given Suzuki totally owned Fuke. The split second speed in which they are reacting to even the slightest adjustment from the opponent really sets this apart from the works.

Now itís time for Captain America himself, Bart Vale, to come to the ring and represent truth, freedom, and the American way, as he faces a grave challenge in the PWFG overlord, Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Vale starts by pressing the action with a few cinematic kicks but is quickly taken down by something of a modified Kouchi-Gari (small inner reap), and we are all grateful that the Kodokan judo is still flowing through Fujiwara. To his credit, Vale is looking spryer than usual tonight, and is able to hip escape off to the side quickly enough to avoid a ground entanglement and gets the fight back to the feet. Fujiwara than works his way into a belly-to-back suplex, and long before Alex Oleynik was getting away with it in the octagon, Fujiwara breaks out his own version of a no-gi Ezekiel-choke, which prompts a rope escape from Vale. The rest of this match wasÖ.ok. Certainly, this was better than I expected it to be, and probably as good as a matchup between these two is going to get. Vale was pulling his kicks here, which is always bad news because they looked terrible, but the grappling portions were fine. There was one interesting moment where Fujiwara was attempting an armbar off his back, and Vale countered with a toe-hold, but overall this was passable, if unmemorable.

ML: I prefer these two fighting each other because, while it ensures one bad match, it also gives every other match the opportunity to be at least decent. Stand up was folly because Vale's kicks were slow motion, naked show kicks, while the mat was simply stasis.

America SurrendersÖ



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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #82 on: January 28, 2021, 07:20:35 AM »
*Vol.23 Continued...*

Now for the final bout of the evening, a rematch from the August '91 event, which was a great match that really put Ken over as a force to be reckoned with. We are all counting on this being total fire to pull this show out of mediocrity and into worthy cannon status. The fight starts off with a bit of a measured kickboxing approach. Funaki is doing a good job peppering Shamrockís legs with both inside and outside thigh kicks. Funaki then tries to shoot in deep with a single, but Shamrock sprawls off to the side, forcing Funaki to opt for attacking Kenís left leg with a rolling kneebar that fails, and puts Funaki on his back in the guard position. Kenís idea of passing the guard includes grinding his elbow on his opponents chin, and attempting several Kimuras, which of course donít work, but did create enough space for him to slide over into a side-mount where he tries an Americana/armbar combination, but is simply too slow in his execution to catch Funaki. Next we get a long sequence when Ken is forced into his guard, but quickly slides out and takes Funakiís back, and continually attempts a rear choke, but is forced to be more concerned about protecting his ankle as he initially crossed his feet around Funakiís stomach leaving them vulnerable for attack. This is starting to feel like a basic BJJ roll, which doesnít sound like much now, but considering that this is still almost 2 years away from UFC 1, this must have seemed completely esoteric to anyone that got to see it outside of Japan.

After a couple more mins of fighting for position and toe-hold attempts, they are back on their feet, but not for long as Shamrock quickly takes the fight back down to the ground and attempts something of a half-baked arm-triangle choke. We can see that Shamrock still has a ways to go in developing his submission arsenal, as he hasnít honed his craft to the point where he is going to catch Funaki with any of these. The ground attrition wages on for a couple more mins before Funaki gains the first submission by getting a toehold on Shamrock. Once back on the feet Funaki comes out swinging with some lethal palm strikes, and after connecting with several, quickly takes the fight back to the ground. The next several mins follow the same pattern as before, only this time they are both moving with a lot more intensity and urgency, even occasionally striking each other on the ground to try and create an opening. Shamrock is the next to gain a point as he was able to secure a kneebar on Funaki, which was more a result of pure brute force, as opposed to slick technique. Once the fight restarted it turned into a kickboxing war, with Funaki out landing Shamrock by a 3-1 ratio. This continued until it appeared that Funaki got accidently eye poked when exchanging with Ken

After recovering from the eye attack , the fight quickly goes to the ground again, and now the ground strikes are starting to get more frequent as we are now past the 20min mark, and the desperation is taking hold. A frantic footsie battle takes place, until Shamrock is now ahead on points, this time by securing a heel-hook. This probably doesnít mean anything as Iím assuming that like the UWF-I, matches will go to an automatic draw if there isnít a conclusive winner. The match ends at the 30 min mark, just as Shamrock was inches away from securing a back choke.

ML: A nice step forward for Funaki, as he managed to do more without sacrificing the realism. The stand up in this match was at an much higher level. Both men were very light on their feet, engaging with caution while looking to avoid. The grappling was pretty slow, but in a sense almost too fast because they randomly gave up positions just to do something. For instance, Shamrock inexplicably released an arm triangle. The problem with no closed fist punches on the mat is that you almost have to annoy your opponent into a mistake. They really fired up for about 30 seconds down the stretch, and I felt that if they could give us even 8 minutes like that they could do a match of the year, but for the most part this was almost totally devoid of intensity. While still better and more eventful than their first match, it was still somewhat dull and felt long and laid back. I can see rating this higher because it feels like the first true Pancrase match, but I wouldn't want to watch it again anytime soon. ***

Conclusion: As far as entertainment value goes, I would probably give the main event ***, but in terms of historical importance, this is invaluable. To me, this was the first fully formed pancrase match, or in other words, an MMA format with less emphasis on ground strikes, and more on grappling. It again demonstrated that Japan was light years ahead of the curve in understanding a fight in all its ranges, which is something that took the rest of the world almost 10 years to catch up with. Even crazier, is that these guys probably had no exposure to BJJ at this point in time which makes it all the more impressive. Itís also easy to see why Funaki had a desire to expand this concept of fighting without the limitations of having to put it in a worked format, thus birthing the Pancrase promotion. This also exposes a major problem with the PWFG moving forward, and that is one of an identity crisis. We have a good portion of the roster that is moving more and more into shoot territory, but the marquee name, presumably Fujiwara, is unable to credibly perform in this style. Compounding matters further, is a lack of a deep enough roster to put on an entire event without having to include more standard pro wrestling fare. Maeda was thankfully in a position where he was able to avoid this, as at this stage he could still get away with putting on a decent match for 4-7 min with most people, and he was so over with the Japanese public that it didnít really matter what he did, but the same canít be said about Fujiwara, who only looks good against far inferior performers. The only logical way forward for the PWFG is to decide to go full shoot, and rework Fujiwara into an ambassador role, but financial politics would probably make this impossible. As it stands, this was a middling affair with all the matches being fine to good in and of themselves, but as a whole this was probably a portent of things to come, as it was too uneven to be a memorable event.

ML: This isn't a great show, but it has a lot to offer. I'm glad we get a shoot, but unfortunately that was the match that probably would have torn the house down as a work. You don't usually get two good matches on a PWFG show, especially when neither involve Suzuki.

*Note: This entire event, and many other priceless treasures await you, when you become a patron over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

*In other news*

It is being reported that after his match with Billy Scott at the 12-22-91 UWF-I event, that James Warring was questioned by approximately 100 reporters and asked how he could lose a fight to an unknown, smaller pro wrestler. He reportedly protested, saying that the match was fake, and that he was promised that he was going to win if he went a full ten rounds, but since he was double crossed, then he had no problem blowing the whistle. If this report is accurate, then it sounds like sour grapes from Warring, who from this scribesí standpoint lost fairly in an obvious shoot.

More news from that same event: We are now told that the attorneys for Trevor Berbick held up the UWFI for an additional $5000 at the last min, threating to not perform if he didnít get it. Also, after he stormed to the back, he reportedly threatened to fight Takada in the dressing room.

Rick London who is the founder of the satirical Scandal Tours which takes place in Washington, D.C., recently met with the Los Angeles Department of Corrections, in an effort to spearhead a program to keep youth away from gangs, and off the streets. If the program is approved, then London will take selected youths and place them in acting classes and provide martial arts training via John Kreng and Stuart Quam. At the end of the course, the youths will be provided a chance to appear in a martial arts film. London is currently seeking sponsorship from film studios, or major corporations.

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #83 on: February 09, 2021, 10:56:22 AM »
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.24 "Terminal Velocity"

*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials*



Welcome to the beginning of the richest of combat sports traditions, as we have now arrived to the first of many MEGA-BATTLE events that FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS will put forth, and no sooner do we arrive, when we are welcomed by a montage featuring freezing fog, a full moon, and an eerie 2-note synth bassline that will forever be etched into our collective psyche. The date is 1-25-92, and now it is Maedaís turn to kick off the new year, with what will hopefully be another powerful statement. When we last saw this outfit, we were able to behold the debut of perhaps the greatest fake fighter of them all in Volk Han, and while he is set to be mysteriously absent from tonightís proceedings, hopefully this will be made up by an appearance from foot-fighting master Rob Kaman. This outfit will have its work cut out for them, as the UWF-I launched the new year with an amazing performance from Kiyoshi Tamura and Yuko Miyato that the PWFG was unable to find an adequate response to, so now we turn our eyes to Maeda to see if he can rise to the challenge.

After the moon visuals that wouldnít be out of place on a Scandinavian metal album fade away, we are taken to the sparse settings within the Tokyo NK hall, where they are conducting a weigh-in of all the fighters, despite there not being any weight classes in effect.   After this, we are greeted to the fighters coming out one-by-one to the Hip-Hop version of the Rings theme, rife with an unbridled lyricism that would have A Tribe Called Quest in a state of envy. Seriously, check out this gem: ďI am the champion! I rule all the rings! I am highÖ. the king of the universe! I am I who conquers all. If you mess with me, hey Itís you whoís gonna get slayed. Because Iím the king of all kings, I mean what I mean. Hey, lemme tell ya, letís step into the ring!Ē Poetry. In. Motion.

Our first match of the evening will be an EARTH BOUT featuring Herman Renting vs Shtorm Koba. As of press time, Iíve been unable to find out any meaningful information about Koba, and this appears to be his only appearance in any kind of pro wrestling/MMA setting, but he does appear to be a possible harbinger of esoteric levels of Judo/Sambo knowledge, so we are hopeful. When we last saw Renting he was in a quasi-shoot with sediokaikan master Nobuaki Kakuda (in that they were basically having a legit sparring contest, but not fully utilizing all the rules/techniques at their disposal). The fight starts with some deliciously stiff kicks from Renting, before being taken down by an excellent ouchi-gari (major inner-reap) which seems to confirm my suspicions about his judo acumen. After the takedown they immediately go for dueling foot-locks but are quickly stood back up by the ref for getting under the ropes.

Once they are back on their feet, they continue to lay into each other with neither man seeming to pull their strikes (but wisely keeping them all to the body to avoid injury) and this is already much better than I could have anticipated. The action continued at a brisk pace until Renting botched a throw, and wound up accidently headbutting Koba, causing a nasty cut over his eye. The doctors eventually cleaned the cut up, and authorized the fight to continue, which prompted Koba to display how a proper throw is to be executed with a tasty yoko-otoshi (lateral drop). Things eventually go sour for Koba as he falls prey to a reverse achilles-lock and must take a rope-escape. Renting eventually wins via an ankle submission at the 13:40 mark. This was a good match that had a nice blend of realism and entertainment, that is hard to accomplish. It could have used some more striking sequences, and there were times that Kobaís newness was apparent, but overall this was a great way to start things off, and itís a shame that this will be the last we will see of Koba, as he genuinely seems to have loads of potential in this format, with his obvious judo skills.

ML: Renting remains one of the better talents Maeda is renting. He was clearly the better athlete, and could have picked apart Koba with his standup. However, Renting did a good job carrying this as a judo inspired match, which allowed Koba to follow pretty well, and show a lot of potential. Koba really stepped up the intensity after he was busted open hard way when a suplex went awry, and the matwork became pretty interesting due to the urgency. The match seemed to peak in this early to mid portion though. 14 minutes was too long for a debuting wrestler, especially if this was basically just going to be a grappling match. Still, this was pretty good, and it's a shame Koba never returned.

Now itís time for an AQUA BOUT (which will be our first shoot of the evening) between Mitsuya Nagai and Koichiro Kimura. Kimura impressed me last time with both good footwork, and a solid judo repertoire, but was unfortunately hampered by an overly long match with another rookie, which negated his ability to properly shine. Here he will be facing Nagai, who was on the receiving end of a one way drubbing at the hands of Gerard Gordeau last month, in what was this promotions first proper shoot.

The match is underway, and Kimura immediately takes two nasty thigh kicks before blasting Nagai down with a double-leg takedown, but when doing so it placed Nagai too close to the ropes and thus prompted a quick restart. Kimura continued to take some more leg punishment before getting the fight to the ground again, but he quickly found himself at a loss while inside Nagaiís open guard, and his only answer was to try a rudimentary ankle-lock, which not only failed, but prompted Nagai to secure a heel hook which led to our first rope-escape. The next several mins saw a continuing pattern of Kimura getting lit-up by Nagai on the feet, before securing a favorable position via takedown, but finding himself unable or unsure of what to do once he had the superior position. After a string of mat failures, Kimura eventually just opted to soccer kick Nagai after his takedowns, at least until the ref could intervene and stand Nagai back up. The last few mins saw Nagai ratcheting up the intensity of his striking, until he unleased a never-ending torrent of palm strikes, which eventually prompted the ref to call for a knockdown. Kimura was able to get up for two more servings of this, before being eliminated for good. Despite Kimuraís only weapon being his takedown skills, this was an exciting match due to the intensity on display, especially from Nagai, and it was good to see him back in form after his humiliating loss to Gordeau last month. Iím not sure if apprehensiveness to striking his grounded opponent is what held Kimura back, or his grappling skills arenít as good as I originally esteemed them to be, but the only thing he really showed here today was a solid wrestling base, and Iím confident that he is capable of a lot more. Still, I feel like we are off to a great start with 2 good matches.

ML: This was a shoot, but, for the most part, they didn't really manage to get any big shots in until the final minutes. The fight was very intense though, and the transitions, scrambles, and takedowns were very fast and urgent. It was Shootboxing vs. SAW, and while Caesar's skills are clearly more interesting than Tobin Bell's, Kimura should have owned this match once he was able to get Nagai down, which he regularly was. Kimura had some pretty neat takedowns where he kept twisting Nagai until he spun him down, but didn't have much of an arsenal of submission arts once he succeeded. In the days largely before striking created the opening for the submission, Kimura found himself doing too much waiting for the opening. In his defense, Nagai was a dangerous striker even off his back. The problem with this match is they just kept seeming to negate each other. Nagai couldn't really kick because Kimura would just catch it and up end him. Whether Kimura got a takedown off a body lock or off catching Nagai's kick, he really didn't have any method of opening up a submission, and the match just stalled out. Nagai had much better luck using his hands, but without gloves it was difficult for him to do a big damage. He swelled Kimura's eye, but probably could have scored a late knockout if he could have used closed fists. Kimura nonetheless seemed about ready to just quit, hunching over, and still wasn't ready to restart after the Ref gave him an eight count, but finally threw some fierce palms of his own. Still, Kimura was just out of gas, and eventually wilted to Nagai's superior cardio. While this had more than its share of downtime, Nagai's comeback finish was exciting, and I think this was a good shoot given the time period. Good match.

The Pangs of DefeatÖ



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #84 on: February 09, 2021, 10:58:37 AM »
*Vol 24 Continued.... *

Now itís time for the rematch that we have all been waiting for, as everyoneís favorite cartoon character Willie Peeters is set to take rekindle his fued with Bert Kops Jr. The last time these two met we witnessed a totally spazztastic performance from Peeters, who was all over the place both figuratively and literally, in what wound up being an entertaining bout that was somewhat cut short due to an injury that Kops received. Things start with Peeters throwing some flashy cinema kicks, with a somewhat reserved demeanor, but just when I think he might be getting too subdued, he starts to blast Kops with his usual super-stiff body shots. He then shifts back into full cartoon-mode, and we get a kickboxing-heavy affair that sees Peeters all over the place between silly roundhouse kicks that will never land and nasty body blows. What is new this time around is the dreaded body stomp. A couple of times when Kops was on the ground, Peeters broke out a new toy in his arsenal, and stomped Kopsí body while holding the ropes, which is a good fit for his character.  The beginning of the end was when Kops shot in for a deep double-leg takedown, but was reversed into a sloppy shoot-style piledriver from Peeters, who then took the time to smirk about it and share some words with his cornerman, Dick Vrij. The crowed totally ate this up, with the biggest pop thus far, but it was for naught, as shortly afterwards Kops won with a straight ankle-lock, seemingly out of nowhere. This was a step down from their last outing, as the ending was just too abrupt, but it was still vintage Peeters, and as such, was entertaining. Like last time, Kops was probably too well behaved, staying professional throughout, and performing with the requisite tempo and stiffness that you would expect in a work, but I kind of wished he would have just lost it with Peeters, and tried to put him in his place.

ML: Peeters kept trying to provoke Kops, who was a bit too straight-laced here, mostly just trying to get in for the takedown. Peeters was much more under control tonight, but for the most part, that wasn't really good thing. This certainly had its moments, but they had a hard time finding the balance. I liked the spot were Peeters tried to drop into a double leg, but Kops nearly applied a rear naked choke as they went through the ropes. The crowd went nuts for Peeters piledriver, which was cooler than Suzuki's. This match would come off better if they followed less credible action, but Peeters has a ton of charisma. The finish was pretty terrible though, and the less selling Peeters does the better.

PeetersÖ.Admiring His Handywork


Next up is footfighting legend Rob Kaman vs a legend in his own right, Nobuaki Kakuda. Kaman is interviewed before the match, and while itís hard to ascertain the exact specifics, it seems like we are going to have a mixed rules match where the first three rounds will be under Rings rules, followed by gloves and kickboxing rules afterwards? Iím unsure if I understood this correctly, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Round 1 starts and neither are wearing boxing gloves, but instead have their hands wrapped, and it appears that face strikes are legal in this round but must be open-handed. This is a 100% shoot fight, and outside of sneaking in a few low-kicks, Kakuda is getting walloped by Kaman, whoís reach, and explosiveness is just too much for him to handle.

Round 2 sees almost no offense from Kakuda, who sadly only served as a heavy bag for Kaman this entire round.

Round 3 sees Kakuda manage to get a takedown, but Kaman lands too close to the ropes, so the fight is instantly restarted. It seemed like something of a hail-mary anyway, as Kakuda showed no interest in even trying to take the fight to the ground prior to this. Kakuda is unable to stand back up, and starts to bleed profusely from his nose, which prompts the doctors to attend to him. While this is happening, a grave look of concern washes over Kazuyoshi Ishiiís face, who may be regretting his decision to allow Kakuda to participate in this. The referee seemingly called the fight off, but to the shock of everyone, Kakuda got back up, and in a daze demanded to fight another round. This was pure heart on Kakudaís part, and while they probably shouldnít have allowed this to continue, they gave Kakuda the opportunity to go out on his shield. After the restart, Kakuda immediately shot in for a take down, but Kaman simply sprawled on top of Kakuda with one knee, and kneed him in the head with his other, which ended the fight.

Iím happy to see another shoot on the card, but it surely would have been more competitive as a work. I would rather have seen Kaman keep his gloves on and face a grappler, which is something we would see several times from Maurice Smith in the years to come.

ML: I think the first three rounds were RINGS rules, which means only open hands to the face, while the final two rounds were more towards regular kickboxing rules with punches legal. While these rules somewhat benefitted karate champion Kakuda, he's also 4 inches shorter, and reach was a primary factor here. Kaman was also too quick for Kakuda, which pretty much eliminated Kakuda's chances of doing anything. The biggest difference in the fight was actually the footwork, as Kakuda is to used to the tournament karate style of striking where youe largely either just in front of the opponent or move directly in and out. Kaman instead kept moving laterally, creating angles for his kicks. Kakuda tried to load up for the big shot, but Kaman hit him with three shot combos then slipped out of range. The fans went nuts for Kakuda eventually continuing after Kaman broke his nose, but sometimes you need to quit when you're less behind. Kakuda tried for a takedown, but Kaman kneed him in the injured nose for the stoppage.

Next up is Willy Wilhelm vs. Igor Kolmykov, and my hopes and prayers that the secretary within the RINGS office would have mysteriously misplaced Wilhelmís phone number are now completely dashed. I can now only long for a swift and merciful fate of a forthcoming short match. This is the first time we will see Kolmykov, who is a Russian Sambo expert, and is coming into this having won both the 1985 Youth World Sambo Championships in addition to the Sambo All-Soviet Union Cup in 1989. Iím now realizing that Wilhelm looks like he was plucked from a mid-western YMCA where he was teaching a local judo club. Wilhelm is performing a lot better than last time, but Kolmykov is looking absolutely dreadful, throwing strikes that were so bad that the Japanese crowd was, at several points, laughing at him. Wilhelm initiates the ne-waza with a tawara-gaeshi (rice-bale-reversal, or gutwrench suplex if you prefer). The rest of this match was basically Kolmykov serving as a grappling dummy for Wilhelm, until Kolmykov abruptly wins with one of the worst armbar sequences in recorded history. J.T. Southern can now make way for Kolmykov, who now has the dubious distinction of being the worst performer in our sphere, or any sphere really. Southern may not do much of anything, but he at least has a baseline level of competence that far exceeds Igorís. Wilhelmís efforts may have kept this from being the worst match weíve seen, but this will probably go down as the worst one of the year.

ML: This was excruciatingly bad because Wilhelm is terrible, and debuting Igor simply doesn't grasp the concept of working. Southern may or may not be worse than Igor, but this was worse than any of Southern's matches because he didn't have a competent opponent to carry him. This was only worth watching for a couple classic unintentional comedy spots, Igor throwing the slowest spinning something kick in history and Igor somehow managing to injure his nose(?) throwing a headbutt. This train wreck was definitely the worst match we've seen so far.

Anything has to be better than what we just witnessed, so Iím happy to see that the next bout will be another likely shoot, in Gerard Gordeau vs Masaaki Satake. When we last saw Gordeau, he completely dominated Mitsuya Nagai, but he is surely going to face a much tougher opponent in the (wrongful) winner of the recent Seidokaikan KARATE JAPAN OPEN TOURNAMENT 1st Towa Cup. Round 1 starts, and Iím assuming that this is under the same rules as the Kaman fight (RINGS rules for the first three rounds), but Iím unsure. Whatever the rules, both fighters seem to want to keep this as a kickboxing contest. Gordeau starts off cautiously, looking to react to Satake, as opposed to trying to initiate any of his own offense, and Satake spends most of the round doing a good job of backing Gordeau into a corner, but just when it seemed like Satake was going to unleash the kraken, Gordeau kicked his way out of a tough spot, and probably goes into round 2 with a slight edge.

One should never expect a Gordeau fight to end without shenanigans, and true to form that is what happened here. Round 2 started normally enough, but at some point the ref called for a break while both fighters were standing up against the ropes, and during the break Gordeau walked over to his corner and started saying something to his cornerman while the ref was calling for the fight to resume. The ref said, ďGo! Go!Ē a couple of times, but Gordeau didnít notice. Satake could see that Gordeau had his back turned, and wasnít aware of the restart, but opted to give him a swift kick to the back of his leg anyway. Gordeau felt like this was a cheap shot and was angered, so when the fight then resumed, Gordeau charged Satake into the corner and gave him a couple of closed fist punches that led to his disqualification.  While Iím not one to want to defend Gordeau, I have to say that Satake should have waited until his opponent understood that the fight was resuming, and while legal, did take a cheap shot. Of course, Gordeau did what Gordeau always does and finds a way to cheat, but at least this time, he had some justification for being upset, even though he should have kept his composure. Whatís worse is that judging by round 1, it would seem that Gordeau had a legit shot of beating Satake, which surprised me, as I didnít think that he would have had the skills to hang with him. This was on its way to becoming a good match (a much more even fight than Kaman/Kakuda), but was ruined by the usual Gordeau antics. This mess apparently pissed somebody off, as Gordeau never performed for Rings again.

ML: This shoot never really got going. They were really just feeling each other out, throwing some random low kicks. Satake did more to control position, but Gordeau had more snap on his strikes. Satake may have accidentally fingered Gordeau in the eyes and a few times, once trying to break a clinch, and another time doing the Jon Jones. Gordeau wasn't sure of the rules, and after the Ref broke up a clinch, he walked across the ring to ask his second why clinches weren't allowed, only to have Satake follow him and cheap shot him. Gordeau then began fighting angry, blitzing Satake with a big flurry that busted him open, which included closed fist punches, hence the requisite disqualification.

Now for the final act of the evening, a rubber match that no one in this modern age is excited to see, but one that surely was at the forefront of Japanís public consciousness, as they were longing to see their hero Akira Maeda avenge his loss to Dick Vrij. The last time these two fought, Maedaís knee was completely shot, which prompted him to suffer an eight-minute one-sided beat-down at the hands of everyoneís favorite Double Dragon boss. Maeda is walking unusually slow to the ring, so Iím not hopeful that he is in optimal shape for this match. Maeda opens things off with his ďcapturedĒ suplex, which gets a great reaction from the crowd, but does little to establish any credibility going forward. He quickly follows it up with a Kimura, and we now have our first rope escape. Vrij responds with his usual shadowboxing medley gaining a knockdown, and is now ahead on points. After beating on Maeda some more, Maeda does what any Capcom fighting character would do at a time like this, and thatís attempt the most epic foot sweep of all time. Almost 6 months before Street Fighter 2 was released, Akira Maeda attempted a sweep right out of the Ken/Ryu playbook, and this may be one of the coolest things we have witnessed so far. They then pummel each other with stiff kicks, but with Maeda being on the worse end of the exchanges, as he has now suffered another 2 knockdowns, and by this point the crowd is going nuts. Itís not long until Maeda wins with another captured suplex, followed by a toe-hold. While not particularly credible, this was fast-paced, stiff, and entertaining. Not a bad way to end things at all, as this was the perfect match length for these two.

ML: Vrij was listed as Dick Fly, which I suppose makes him the evil version of McFly. I'd be OK if they just gave him a Tab and sent him packing. Akira was perhaps healthier, but clearly hadn't been able to train much, and was putting on a lot of weight. The match was more or less what it needed to be. It was aggressive, and highlight filled. Vrij's strikes looked powerful, and he was clearly the more impressive of the two, but this time Maeda was able to hang with him. This was the best of their three matches, mostly because Vrij was a lot more impressive.

Conclusion: This was on par with their last event (the 1991 year-end show), and easily the best of the three shoot shows for the month of January. While it didnít have anything close to the awesomeness that was Tamura/Miyato, it was solid from start to finish, minus the travesty that was Kolmykov. Even with Han absent, things are looking a lot better, thanks to the inclusion of some of the Sediokaikan roster, and the fact that we are now having shoots mixed in with the usual fare.

ML: By far the best top to bottom Rings show we've seen so far, but well consistently fairly interesting, still not a lot to really recommend. For me, the UWF-I show was the best of the month because it has two matches people need to see.

*This entire event, along with many other rare treasures can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

    *In other news*

There are rumors circulating that Antonio Inoki is negotiating with James "Buster" Douglas for a wrestler vs. boxer match for the Tokyo Dome as early as March.

UWFI drew a sellout 2,300 in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall at their event that took place on 1-9-92. Nobuhiko Takada was supposed to be in the tag match that featured Gary Albright, but was injured a few days before this event. Expect Albright vs Takada to be a major program in the days to come.

Travel in Mind, a travel company based out of Commack, New York, recently started organizing a tour of Japan that will focus on the historical and geographical aspects of Ninjitsu . The itinerary includes visits to the Iga region of Japan, which is considered the birthplace of ninjitsu, a three day stay at a monastery, as well as hikes to nearby mountain shrines. Tours are set to begin on 5-15-92 and will be led by John Dellinger, who is a top student of acclaimed ninja authority Stephen Hayes.



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #85 on: February 18, 2021, 10:02:19 AM »
Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.25 "Blood in the Soil"

*Mike Lorefice (of the excellent MMA/Puroresu emporium quebrada.net) will have his comments be preceded by his initials. *

The great Henry David Thoreau once quipped that, ďMany men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.Ē Such is the same state that we now find ourselves in, as we continue to follow the beckoning of the hallowed Kakutogi Road, not simply to relive the glories of a lost era, but to seek out deeper truths of the human condition. Our latest task before us takes place on 2-15-92, and we will be returning to the infamous Korakuen Hall where the UWFI is once again ready to set the tone for the month. Last month, they nearly melted the ring with a match between Kiyoshi Tamura and Yuko Miyato that was a total blaze up, so hopefully they will be able to keep that momentum going.



Hiromitsu Kanehara vs Masakasu Maeda opens for the third time in a row. Normally, I would be prone to gripe about going to the same well over and over again, but these two just keep getting better, so if they can keep this up then I would be fine with them opening as many events as they please. Things start off with Kanehara taking the initiative as he bull rushes Maeda with a litany of stiff palm strikes, but after being initially taken off-guard, Maeda was able to regain his composure and return a volley of his own. Kanehara started to find himself on the losing end of this slap-fest, so he wisely opted to shoot in with an explosive double-leg, however Maeda is continuing to increase his skills from match to match, and was able to effortlessly switch from standing firepower to an effective sprawl.

Kanehara is simply too crafty with his grappling however, and was able to negate the sprawl by continually ďturning the cornerĒ until he was at an angle where he could forgo the takedown altogether and shift to attacking the leg of Maeda. He used this leg threat just long enough to create an opening to move to side mount, all the while subtly throwing in strikes on his grounded opponent so he could continue to move and tweak his positioning. So far this is light years ahead of what anyone in the game has produced outside of Tamura/Funaki/Han, which is amazing considering these two are ďrookiesĒ and this is only their thirst match.

Kanehara squandered his superior position with a failed armbar, which allowed Maeda to get up and start soccer kicking at will. Kanehara was able to fight his way back up and get the action back down to the ground, but not before taking another barrage of palm-strikes for his trouble. The next couple of minutes saw the two go back and forth on the mat, exchanging positions and submission attempts, but unlike most matches up to this point, or even a lot of future Pancrase matches for that matter, they would be willing to strike each other on the ground in an effort to create an opening for an attack. We have seen a little bit of this so far, but not in such a fluid and sustained way from both competitors, so this really gets a nod for being far ahead of the curve. Even the old and tired Boston crab got a breath of new life here, as there was one sequence where Maeda was going for the single-leg variation, and unlike every other pro wrestler in history, Kanehara was actually not cooperating with this, so Maeda started frantically kicking Kanehara in the back to try and force a way for him to continue to finish the maneuver. It didnít wind up succeeding, but was brilliant all the same.

The next 10 minutes wound up being total lava, as they went to a 15 minute draw with a non-stop barrage of strikes, positions changes, and submission attempts that were traded between both men, with absolutely no let-up or dead space in-between. This might be one of my favorite matches so far, and will surely go down as one of the best matches of '92, and even if the rest of this card winds up being hot garbage, it wonít really matter as this was worth the price of admission all on its own.

ML: Kanehara arrived as one of the top 5 worked shooters in the world in this truly revolutionary bout! This was the first UWF-I match that came out of the gate looking like a shoot, and somehow it never really stopped, which would be truly amazing if it were simply a 5 minute match, but this went the whole 15. This may be the most intense worked match I've ever seen! The speed and aggression were just off the charts. That was absolutely the difference here, and totally the key to their success. They were throwing really fast open hands, and scrambling hard and fast on the canvas. There was simply no sense of cooperation at all, anywhere. Everything one fighter did, the other fighter fought against, as if for their life. If every worked match looked like this, there almost would have been no need for actual MMA. While this doesn't have the I need to rewind this awe factor of Tamura's works, it was the most relentlessly aggressive fight we've seen so far. Maeda was dead by the end from going so hard for so long. A classic! ****1/2



Seriously, whoever green-lit the idea of refusing to give Billy Scott his $500 back for that silly lime-green outfit should be waterboarded, as surely that suffering is not even worthy to be compared to what we must now endure with another JT Southern bout, this time against Masahito Kakihara. Things start off quickly, with Kakihara blitzing Southern with a palm strike assault so quick and stiff, that itís clearly freaking the Tennessee native out. Southern starts frantically throwing some front snap-kicks to try and ward Kakihara off, when one of them connects and causes Kakihara to stumble onto the ground. Seeing this opening, JT wisely capitalized and tried to take the back of Kakihara. Though not at all pretty, JT did manage to force Kakihara into a rope escape, which would be the first and only time that JT was able to do this. The rest of this short fight saw Kakihara slap and kick the stuffing out of JT, before ending things with another northeastern crab. Thankfully, this will be the last time we see Southern, who sailed off to the more temperate waters of WCW, where he briefly managed Scotty Flamingo (Raven).

ML: The best Southern match we've seen by a mile. Kakihara put so much pressure on Southern that he had him fighting for his life. The standup was actually good because Kakihara was just blitzing him, so Southern was forced to simply react, which was at least better than him thinking. They kept it short and aggressive, which is where Kakihara is at his best. This actually found a nice balance between believably and entertainment. It wasn't great, but it was way better than the quick squashes Albright has done.

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #86 on: February 18, 2021, 10:04:33 AM »
Vol. 25 Continued.....

Next up, the fierce challengers from last month (Tamura and Miyato) will now be teaming up to fight Tatuyo Nakano and newcomer Mark Silver. Miyato and Nakano start first, and Miyato opens fire with some crisp kickboxing, but is completely overpowered in the clinch, and just winds up on the ground where Nakno can put all his weight on him. For whatever reason, Nakano just decides not to bother with it, and tags in Silver, who is able to move a lot quicker than his size would seem to suggest. After a brief back and forth, Miyato tags in Tamura who takes a minute or so to feel out his opponent, before taking it to the canvas and giving us ourfirst memorable moment when Silver tried a primitive toe-hold attack while being seated behind Tamuraís back, but found himself quickly countered with a slick armbar entry. Tamura and Silver continue for a couple more minutes, and Silver is moving well for a rookie. At this stage, he is showing some decent wrestling and kicking skills, placing him above Burton and Boss, but beneath Scott, so with some more refinement, I could see him being a solid addition to the roster.

Silver tags Nakano back in, which prompts Tamura to really turn up the volume as Nakano desperately tries to get a takedown, but Tamura scrambles and contorts in every way imaginable to prevent him from being successful. The fight eventually winds up on the mat when Tamura dives in for a kneebar, but only winds up plopping down on his backside, which allows Naknao to smother him, before eventually securing a kneebar of his own, prompting both a rope escape and a tag back in for Miyato. The match continued to be an entertaining and brisked pace affair, which really shined every time Miyato was in the ring. He brought all the same fire and intensity that he was showing us last month, and because of this, he was able to really elevate this match from standard boiler plate to an above-average entry. Thatís not to say that the others didnít do a good job (they all did), but he really brought his A-game, which forced Silver and Nakano to have to rise to the occasion as well. Tamura was a bit more subdued than usual, taking on more of a counter-fighter role, but even though this wasnít his flashiest showing, it was still Tamura, and thus good. I would give this a solid *** 1/2 , as the only real drawback here was the randomness of the match/contestants, which caused it to lack any real emotional satisfaction, and simply served as a high-quality time killer.

ML: The biggest problem here was the pairings. We didn't get to see more of the best rivalry in the UWF-I because Tamura and Miyato were on the same team. On one hand, the debuting Silver did pretty well, but they kind of sacrificed Tamura & Miyato to achieve that. Nakano was more lively than one could have expected, and actually everyone was really doing a much better job tonight with the scrambling, as if they got a memo about being more urgent. While Tamura was, of course, good, it was really Miyato's energetic striking exchanges that made the match. ***

There is still a gnawing void that eats at the soul of the UWF-I, a giant Billy Scott shaped hole that is as glaring and obvious as a gaping head wound, and Shinji Sasazaki knowing this, continues to try and concoct a healing salve by sending in more Tennessee reinforcements. In this case, itís famed NWA veteran Pez Whatley. Whatleyís most memorable run was probably an angle where he feuded with Jimmy Valiant for perceived racist comments, when Valiant said that he was the best black athlete in the NWA. After his NWA stint ran its course, he moved on to Florida and became a henchman for Kevin Sullivan, and then went to Alabama to become a top face for Southeast Championship Wrestling. Here he will be debuting against everyoneís favorite zebra-warrior, Yoji Anjo, who was able to get a decent match out of Bob Backlund, so Iím hoping that he can work his magic on Whatley, also.

The fight starts off with Anjo unleashing a fast clip of stiff kicks, but the much larger Whatley was able to take Anjo down with easeÖ.and hold him. Anjo would get close enough to the ropes to prompt a stand up from the ref, get a few more shots in, before being taken downÖ.and held some more. This pattern continued for the duration of the fight, until Anjo botched a throw, but when Whatley was going back to his huggy and controlling ways, Anjo was able to shift into some kind of weird variation of a reverse armbar, which seemed to cause a moment of genuine panic from Whatley, and led to a submission victory. This was bizarre, and actually came across credibly, as Whatley fought Anjo just how you would expect a huge guy with some wrestling skill (and nothing else) to, so while this wasnít nearly as bad as last monthís Wilhelm/Kolmykov travesty, it hardly ranks as mandatory viewing either. Whatley will need a lot more training in this style before even being made an offer to return.

ML: Pez was UTC's first African-American wrestler. While I was ready to dispense with the dispenser about 30 seconds into the match, this wasn't a travesty so much as sheer boredom. It's hard to say if Whattley had any name value given WWE rightfully destroyed him by turning him into Saturday morning fodder, but he surely didn't have much potential to learn a new style given he was already 41. The finish was cool, but otherwise it was mostly lay and pray.



The savage plan to unleash the Albright-monster is now fully in motion, and there is nothing that can now be done to stop it. It is now an inevitability that the behemoth from Rhode Island will face his destiny and collide with Nobuhiko Takada for the stake of the future of the UWF-I and all that is both meet and right. Still, the time is not quite in its fullness, so this will simply be a precursor of things to come, and a way to pave the road that booker Miyato has been trying to set up now for several months.

Yes, it is time for a tag match between Nobuhiko Takada/Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Gary Albright/Tom Burton, and lonely is the path of sorrow that Yamazaki is now forced to tread upon, a once bright and shining star, the padawan to Satoru Sayama, and the seeming heir apparent to his legacy, now reduced to what will probably be another farcical exercise in putting over the suplex-monstrosity. Things open up with an interview where Tom Burton states that Nobuhiko Takada and Kazuo Yamazaki are currently the number one rated tag team in the UWF-I, which is amazing, considering that this is the first time that Takada and Yamazaki will be teaming up together in this promotion. The mic is passed to Albright, who sounds surprisingly thoughtful and lucid, and lays out the case that they can take leg-kick punishment that the Japanese will surely give them, but that the Japanese will not be able to withstand their combined size and strength for 60 minutes.

Yamazaki and Burton start the match, and itís always a pleasure to see Yamazaki work, as he immediately throws some high kicks as feints to try and send a warning to Burton not to come charging in too quickly. Burton dodges the kick and blasts Yamazaki down with a double and passes Yamazakiís guard by quickly sliding over into a side headlock. We then hear a very quiet, yet confidant, voice coming from Albright when he says ďLetís go Tom,Ē and this reminds me of how Frank Shamrock was always the best corner man that you could possibly have, as he would just quietly talk to Maurice Smith when he was in bad positions, smoothly explaining how to get out of them, and never having to yell or get overly excited. Burton didnít seem to know how to follow up on his headlock, so when he started to shift to a new plan of attack, Yamazaki simply got up and initially went for a crab, and when he realized that was not likely, pulled out a nifty standing heel-hook, to which I donít think Iíve yet witnessed. Not long afterwards, Yamazaki obtained an armbar, prompting another rope-escape and a tag-switch to Takada and Albright, which is the moment that the Japanese public has been waiting for. To his credit, Takada is at least pretending this is a big deal, and is moving around with a faux sense of urgency that he hasnít been bothering to display lately, at least he is making an effort to create the faÁade. Albright and Takada were effectively neutralizing one another at first, with Albright stifling Takadaís offense by smothering him down to the ground, but unable to do much once the fight got there. This was until Takada was able to draw first blood with an armbar, prompting a rope escape.

The rest of the match saw Yamazaki do most of the heavy lifting, both with Burton and Albright, with a few Takada hors d'oeuvres sprinkled in to tease the audience of what was to come. Thankfully, they allowed Yamazaki more opportunities to shine against Albright than Tamura, giving him some offense, but it was for naught as it wasnít long before Yamazaki took a trip on air Albright, and was suplexed into oblivion. This was nothing more than a trailer for the upcoming Albright/Takada bout, and on that basis, was marginally entertaining, but the real loser here is Yamazaki, who stands to be buried beyond repair from all of this. I donít know what the terms of his contract were, but I would think now is a great time to bail for a different promotion, if at all possible.

ML: Everyone tried, but it was very uneven with Takada and Albright doing a traditional pro wrestling match, while Yamazaki and Burton at least tried to do something shoot oriented. Takada actually gave a good effort, but the match felt really out of place after all that had come before, and really came off as a silly kick and suplex exhibition that was hard to take seriously. It accomplished its goal off selling the big show main event, but even Maeda seems pretty realistic compared to what we were seeing from Takada and Albright.

Conclusion: Sort of a lateral move compared to last month if a slight downgrade. We had liquid magma in the Kanehara/Maeda match, and a very solid affair with the Tamura/Miyato/Nakano/Silver tag, but two abysmal outings with Whatley and Southern. The main event served a purpose for its time, but is hardly recommending viewing at this stage, and is rather depressing as it continues to show how much Yamazaki is being squandered. Still, two entertaining matches in a one hour event is not a bad way to go, and if Kanehara keeps getting better, then itís going to be hard to compete with this promotion, unless they find a way to mess things up.

ML: I thought this was a big step forward until the main event. Overall, the action was faster, stiffer, and more urgent. Kanehara is improving by leaps and bounds, as is Maeda, and even though they are in the opener, others actually seemed to be following their lead and moving toward a more realistic style. There's way too many Americans though, and they are holding things back, though mainly it's the booking that on one hand wants to be a shoot league, but on the other keeps focusing on the least realistic guys to try to sell tickets.

(Editors Note: If you would like to see this event in full, along with many other rare treasures, then head on over to www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad and become a member! *

    *In other news*

Rumors continue to swirl that Roberto Duran is in talks with the PWFG to have a fight, now with the possibility of facing Masakatsu Funaki. Talk was originally centered around him fighting Yoshiaki Fujiwara at an upcoming event thatís set to take place in Florida, but Duran is reportedly only wanting to fight overseas, due to tax issues.

Willie Williams, who had a famous mixed match against Antonio Inoki on 2/27/80, signed with RINGS and due to start at their 3-5-92 event.

Legendary kickboxer, and World Karate Association heavyweight champion Maurice Smith (who worked a mixed match on a UWF show in 1989) is scheduled to face sediokaikan heavyweight, Masaaki Satake at an upcoming RINGS event.